JERUSALEM – On March 22nd, the Catholic Ordinaries of the Holy Land (ACOHL) met for a two-day plenary assembly at the St Martha Monastery of the Passionist Fathers (Bethany), during which they celebrated the 50 years of priesthood of Mgr Adolfo Tito Yllana, Apostolic Delegate in Jerusalem and Palestine and Apostolic Nuncio to Israel and Cyprus, at the Notre Dame of Jerusalem Center.
Another Mass had been celebrated on March 19th, the exact day marking the 50th anniversary of Mgr Yllana's priesthood, but not with the Catholic Ordinaries.
Ordained a priest of the Archdiocese of Caceres (Philippines) on March 19th, 1972, Mgr Yllana has since then held diplomatic functions in Ghana, Sri Lanka, Turkey, Lebanon, Hungary and Taiwan, before being appointed titular archbishop of Montecorvino and Apostolic Nuncio to Papua New Guinea in 2001. Before he was sent to the Holy Land, he served as Apostolic Nuncio in the Solomon Islands, Pakistan, Congo-Kinshasa and Australia.
On the evening of Tuesday, March 22nd, following the first day of their plenary assembly, the Catholic Ordinaries and their president, Mgr Pierbattista Pizzaballa, Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem, gathered together at the chapel of the Notre Dame of Jerusalem Center for a Mass presided by Mgr Yllana, to celebrate the 50th anniversary of his priesthood. Priests and seminarians from the Latin Patriarchate and some of the Franciscans of the Custody of the Holy Land also attended the celebration.
During his homily, Mgr Yllana reminded everyone of the essence and meaning of the word "priesthood", stating that it was an undeserved grace and gift, for which he would never cease to thank the Lord. He also called it not merely an office, but a sacrament as well. "God makes use of us, poor creatures, to make Himself present to us, to all men and women, and to act in their favor," he said. "This is audacity on the part of God, who entrusts Himself to human beings, who, despite knowing our weaknesses, nevertheless considers men capable of acting in His name. This is the true greatness hidden in the word priesthood. How to thank the Lord for such a great gift? The only thing I can do is respond daily with my fidelity to the grace received."
At the end of the celebration, Mgr Yllana expressed his thanks to the Catholic Ordinaries and their president as well as all of those who concelebrated the Mass, and the people, whether religious or lay, who attended. His speech was followed by one from Mgr Pizzaballa, who also thanked the ACOHL for the service they provide for the Church of the Holy Land. "We know that we are sometimes giving you headaches," he smiled. "Yet all this time, you've supported us with your very fraternal presence. So thank you and may the Lord bless you," he concluded, assuring the Assembly members of the prayers of the Church of the Holy Land.